Kürten back where she belongs after move to Paris
WHEN WE started these awards in the dim and distant past – 2004, to be precise – only squash professional Madeline Perry matched Jessica Kürten when it came to the frequency of her monthly awards, both women winning seven in our opening seven years.
Indeed, so successful was Kürten during that spell, when she became the highest ranked woman in her sport and second in the world, she prompted us to introduce “the Jessica rule” – ie that each sportswoman was eligible for just one monthly award each year, but her achievements through the year would be taken into account for the overall award. Otherwise, such was her run of major successes, she might have been her only rival.
They were, then, heady days for the Antrim native, but after last year’s much publicised dispute with Lady Georgina Forbes, when Kürten lost her most experienced horses, it seemed unlikely the 42-year-old would enjoy that level of success again.
Having been ranked as high as two in the world, she dropped out of the top 100, at the same time going through the upheaval of relocating from Germany to France, Kürten now based at the yard of businessman and fellow showjumper Edouard de Rothschild near Paris.
Just a fortnight after her move, over a year since her last major Grand Prix win and a year since she lost the ride of her top horses, Kürten competed, along with 44 other riders, at the four-star Amsterdam Grand Prix – and won.
In a nine horse jump-off she beat World Equestrian Games gold medallist Gerco Schroder by three-hundredths of a second, just three months after she rode the same horse, Vincente, to third at a three-star show in Germany.
She was excited then about his potential, but even more convinced after Amsterdam that “the horse definitely can go all the way”.
“I see this as a great omen, this is my first show this year and I only moved to Paris two weeks ago. It is a new adventure and it is a nice way to start it,” said Kürten after her success, which earned her a prize of €24,750.
She has conceded that, even with all going well, it will take her at least two years to get back to the dizzy heights she once reached in the world rankings, but, after such a difficult year, her performance in Amsterdam proved she’s far from done.
AWARDS SO FAR:
The Wicklow runner emulated Catherina McKiernan’s 1994 European Cross Country Championship success by winning gold in Slovenia, a year after suffering the disappointment of finishing just outside the medals.
Awards cover December 2011 to November 2012